Ongoing and Occasional 2

Ongoing and Occasional 2



Helsinki Library – Photo ALA ArchitectsHelsinki Library – Photo ALA Architects

Dear Fourth Door mailing list folks

This is the first in an occasional if regular Fourth Door missive series, mixing things I’ve noticed and noted across the span of FD-terrain. There’ll be further edition as part of a renewed and active year ahead. Let us know what you think, positive, negative and neutral, and I’ll look forward to folk’s communications, and to sending the next of these out soon.

All kindnesses,
Oliver (Lowenstein)


Materials – Timber, architecture and the 21st century

Our friends in the North (i) Germany’s Detail Magazine just awarded their main 2020 architecture prize to Finnish ALA Architecture’s Helsinki Library, with its rather wonderful looking sinuous, swooping timber canopy facade. Just how much timber is integral to the design is another matter. Read about the rise of Helsinki’s new architectural generation – including ALA – in Fourth Door’s Unstructured here.

Our friends in the North (ii) – Some of you will know of our liking for the small island with the big craft scene in the middle (well, in the west-middle) of the Baltic Sea – Bornholm. This week brings news that the island’s showcase Green Solution House hotel is expanding, with a first in timber designed by major Danish architects 3XN (That’s three times Nielsen, the name of all three of the Aarhus studio founders) and their circular underlings, GXN, another sign of the times that the Danes are moving into timber.

Our friends in the North (iii) – following the news of the first UK manufacturing Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) (along with other indigenous wood materials) by Scotland’s CSIC noted in the last of these missives, TRADA posted a guide to grading UK woods by Dan Ridley-Ellis, from Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Timber Engineering. Ridley-Ellis also runs the centre’s terrific blog as well as being one of a – in probable likelihood – minority of timber engineers who lives a double life as a stand-up comedian (at least in the evening).


Stroud Chapel – Nicolas Pople Architects – Photo Fernando Manoso BorgasStroud Chapel – Nicolas Pople Architects – Photo Fernando Manoso Borgas

Our friends north of the Ashdown Forest - not exactly the same sort of thing, but another epicentre of small-town quirk, Stroud is home to Nicolas Pople Architects rather wonderfully idiosyncratic, Steiner Chapel. The chapel received a write up for the Forest Row studio in the Architectural Journal this week. An early write up about this ground-breaking use of CLT for what engineers describe as a Monocoque structure initially appeared on Unstructured here.

Materials - Green Steel -   increasing numbers of reports regarding major moves towards Zero Carbon Steel have been appearing across diverse sections of the media, department of hydrogen futures, over the last months. Given steel contributes between 6% and 10% of all carbon emissions the moves are significant if not surprising. Part of the broader emergence of the Hydrogen Economy – using hydrogen energy to replace smelting ore in blast furnaces – features like this overview in a November FT are becoming almost everyday. LKAB, Sweden’s largest steel manufacturer -  yes the same company which is moving part of the northern town of Kiruna out of safety concerns about the town collapsing into its underground mines – caused ripples when it announced it was targeting producing the first Zero Carbon Steel’ by 2026 latest, and made a commitment for all operations to be fully zero carbon by 2046. Meanwhile in Austria, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries hydrogen-based steel is behind what’s described as ‘the world’s largest steel plant capable of attaining net-zero carbon dioxide emissions’ at one of Austrian steelmaker voestalpine factories. ThyssenKrupp are working with the Norwegian giant, Equinor, on another hydrogen project for the formers Duisburg steel plant, while ArcelorMittal are also undertaking research in Spain. But, as is often pointed out, unless China makes green steel commitments (and acts on them) none of this will be enough to make a meaningful dent on steel’s carbon count. (Source of this mainly through Chris Goodall’s Carbon Commentary).


Polysilicon - Images used in compilation by Georg Slickers, Warut Roonguthai and Компания НИТОЛ. Compilation Own work. – Derived from by Georg Slickers, released under CC-BY-SA-2.5,2.0,1.0.

Polysilicon – Images used in compilation by Georg Slickers, Warut Roonguthai and Компания НИТОЛ. Compilation Own work. – Derived from by Georg Slickers, released under CC-BY-SA-2.5,2.0,1.0.
Materials – Polysilicon -  Speaking of the first green civilisation, New York Times report, amplifies research by Horizon Advisory on forced labour being used in the workforce for a number of China’s solar power companies in its north western Xiajiang state, home to the Uighur and other minorities. The state is one of the only sources of polysilicon, critical for solar panels’ surface film. The NYT reports that in 2020 Xiajiang was the source of 40% of the solar energy sectors polysilicon; it is a critical material needed for solar panels manufacture, and that China whole is the source of 82% of all polysilicon, up from 26% in 2010.
Eleanor Pritchard, Blanket CoverageEleanor Pritchard, Blanket Coverage
A weave in time - By way of contrast Blanket Coverage, a rather lovely looking exhibition focused on contemporary blanket weaving, is on – lockdown permitting – until mid-April at the Welsh art space Llantarnam Grange (close to Torfaen, between Newport and Abergavenny.)
Pan-Continental Acoustic Ecology - Acoustic Commons, a network of acoustic ecology sound arts partners, who are bringing to our attention, and indeed our ears, soundscapes from places and spaces across Europe and beyond, are co-organising a live streaming workshop this coming Monday through Friday 25th-29th January transmitting 10am to 5pm (CET) each day.
Forests and Africa – Hopeful dreams to file under the good news section. From afar Africa’s continent crossing mighty forest regreening initiative, which, once completed will run from Senegal in the West to  the Horn of Africa in the east, received a $14 billion boost in international pledges, looks inspiring.

Meanwhile - Yekaterina Nekrasova, 40, swam a record 85 metres under the ice of Lake Baikal wearing only a cap and swimsuit. Easy when you know how, apparently.


Forest in Congo peatland – WikipediaForest in Congo peatland – Wikipedia

This is the second in Fourth Door’s Ongoing information mail-outs.

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